jimmythegreek Posts:11441 Followers:384
On 12/18/2011 10:35 AM in NFL

NFL GREEK INSIDER WEEK 15

Green Bay -13 over Kansas City (bought half):
The Packers look to clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs Sunday when they visit the struggling Kansas City Chiefs, who have a new coach and quarterback. A week after clinching the NFC North, Green Bay (13-0) secured a first-round playoff bye with last Sunday's 46-16 victory over Oakland. The Packers won their 19th straight game - the second-longest streak in NFL history - and can become the fourth team to go 14-0 if they defeat Kansas City. A win would also give Green Bay the top seed in the NFC, leaving the potential to go 16-0 as the last remaining goal for the final two regular season games.

The Packers had little trouble against the Raiders, leading 31-0 by halftime and winning easily enough that quarterback Aaron Rodgers got an early rest. While the loss of Rodgers' favorite target Greg Jennings is obviously a bit of an obstacle, Green Bay - which leads the league in scoring average (35.8) and has already set a franchise record with 466 points - has plenty of other offensive options. Fifteen Packers have scored at least one offensive touchdown, and Rodgers has hooked up with nine receivers for scores.

Jordy Nelson has 51 catches and team highs of 957 yards and 10 touchdowns, while tight end Jermichael Finley has 42 receptions for 600 yards and six TDs. Rodgers also pointed to James Jones and rookie wide receiver Randall Cobb as players he expects to help make up for Jennings' absence. Of course, McCarthy feels confident about his other receivers in part because he knows his quarterback is fully capable of making plays. Rodgers, who leads the NFL with 39 touchdowns and a 123.3 passer rating, is trying to become the first quarterback in NFL history to throw multiple TD passes in 14 consecutive games. He also needs just one more touchdown pass to establish a single-season franchise record.

While McCarthy, Rodgers and the rest of the Packers are gearing up for a possible second straight Super Bowl run, the Chiefs (5-8) are essentially looking to ahead to next season. Although still mathematically alive in a weak AFC West, Kansas City fired coach Todd Haley a day after Sunday's 37-10 loss to the New York Jets and has replaced him with defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. Despite Haley's offensive background, his Chiefs ranked 28th in total offense (293.8 yards per game) and 31st in scoring (13.3). Season-ending injuries to All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles, quarterback Matt Cassel and tight end Tony Moeaki have hampered Kansas City. Crennel now has the difficult challenge of getting a team that has lost five of six to knock off the Packers.

He has decided to drop Tyler Palko from starting quarterback to third string after he led the Chiefs to only two touchdowns in four games since taking over for Cassel. Kyle Orton will start Sunday unless an injury to his right index finger on his throwing hand causes him problems, and in that case rookie Ricky Stanzi would get the call for the first time in his career. Claimed off waivers from Denver during Thanksgiving week, Orton dislocated his finger in his only play as a member of the Chiefs two weeks ago at Chicago. The Packers lead the NFL with 27 interceptions - nine more than any other team including three off Orton in a 49-23 victory over the Broncos in Week 4.

While losing Jennings will result in a fairly significant setback, Rodgers versaility and brass will give him more multiple options for completions. Ryan Grant could get on track running the football which might take some pressure off the MVP candidate as well as the urgency, but the Packers should avoid a letdown at all costs against a sub-.500 team in upheaval -- clinching home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs and moving one win closer to the perfect season.

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jimmythegreek Posts:11441 Followers:384
12/18/2011 10:42 AM

New Orleans -8 over Minnesota:
New Orleans (10-3) is tied with San Francisco in the race for the NFC's No. 2 seed, but the 49ers have the inside track because of an 8-2 conference record. The Saints are 6-3 in NFC games. New Orleans would have been in position to clinch its third division title in six seasons with a victory Sunday if Atlanta had lost to Jacksonville on Thursday, but the Falcons won 41-14. The Saints, riding a five-game winning streak, appear to have a good shot to pull closer to the division crown with the Vikings (2-11), losers of five straight, up next. New Orleans, though, is 4-3 away from home and needed a late comeback to beat Tennessee 22-17 last week.

Drew Brees rallied his team with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Marques Colston, and the Saints held the Titans at the 5-yard line over the game's final two plays. New Orleans clinched a team record-tying third straight playoff berth with the win and Chicago's overtime loss in Denver later that day. Brees, the NFL leader with 4,368 passing yards and director of the league's top offense (447.8 yards per game), has thrown for a touchdown in 40 consecutive contests, seven shy of tying Johnny Unitas' league mark. He is also riding an NFL-record streak of 33 games with 20 or more completions. He'll get the chance to extend those runs when he makes his NFL Metrodome debut against the league's 26th-ranked pass defense, which is allowing 248.8 yards per game.

The Vikings gave up a pair of touchdowns through the air and Christian Ponder committed two costly turnovers in the first 18 minutes of a 34-28 loss in Detroit last week. Minnesota nearly completed a spectacular comeback from a 21-point deficit behind Joe Webb, who replaced Ponder in the third quarter following three interceptions and a fumble that was recovered in the end zone. Webb guided the Vikings to the 1-yard line in the final seconds but fumbled on the final play as referees failed to catch Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy's facemask penalty.

With Peterson out for a third straight game, Webb provided a lift to the ground attack with 109 yards on seven carries - most of that coming on a 65-yard scoring sprint in the third quarter. He also threw a short TD pass to running back Toby Gerhart in the final period. Despite that performance, coach Leslie Frazier indicated Ponder will start Sunday if healthy. The rookie has been dealing with a hip pointer and was questionable for last week's game. Even with Peterson on the field, Minnesota couldn't beat the Saints in the last two meetings. He had 87 yards on 19 carries during a 14-9 loss in last season's opener at the Superdome on Sept. 9.

The Vikings rank 18th overall in allowing 350.2 yards per game and are ninth in rushing in giving up just 101.4 yards; their weakness is the Saints' strength, the passing game, which would suggest that they'll target a 26th-ranked pass defense that has allowed 248.8 yards a game and 26 touchdowns. Slowing down a pass rush that has 39 sacks will be crucial. Defensively, the Saints look to stop a running game that ranks fourth with 145.6 yards per game. Peterson, who's rushed for 872 yards and a 4.7 average with 11 TDs, will likely return from an ankle injury Sunday. The Saints are coming off an outing in which they held Tennessee's Chris Johnson to 23 yards on 11 carries, so they hope that carries over to this game.



















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jimmythegreek Posts:11441 Followers:384
12/18/2011 10:47 AM

Tennessee -6 over Indianapolis:
The Tennessee Titans' playoff hopes took a hit after a frustrating loss last week, but they've received some good news regarding their quarterback position. With Matt Hasselbeck expected to be able to start, the Titans look to bounce back while sending the Indianapolis Colts to their first 0-14 record in franchise history Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Tennessee (7-6) fell one game behind Denver and New York in the AFC wild-card race after losing 22-17 to New Orleans last week. Hasselbeck strained his calf early in the second quarter, giving rookie Jake Locker extended action for only the second time in his career. Appearing poised, Locker went 13 for 29 for 282 yards and a touchdown while adding a 6-yard TD run in the third quarter.

He later hit Nate Washington on a 40-yard touchdown pass in the fourth, though he was sacked inside the Saints' 10-yard line on the final play of the game. Hasselbeck had an MRI on Monday and watched practice Wednesday, but he did more than he expected when he returned for Thursday's practice. Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell said his team plans to be ready no matter who is under center for the Titans. Whatever the reason for Johnson's inconsistency this season, he'll likely need to pick up his game this week. He ran for 23 yards on 11 carries versus New Orleans after combining for 343 yards and two touchdowns the previous two weeks.

Indianapolis held Johnson to 34 yards on 14 carries in the first meeting Oct. 30, but lost as has been the result all season - 27-10. The Colts have never dropped their first 14 games in their 58-year existence and are looking to avoid that dubious mark with a pair of quarterbacks who have yet to win a start in the NFL. Dan Orlovsky will make his third straight start after Curtis Painter threw six touchdowns and nine interceptions in nine games. Orlovsky went 17 for 37 for 136 yards and a touchdown in a 24-10 loss to Baltimore last Sunday. Indianapolis, though, doesn't plan to start hoping for the return of Peyton Manning nor give up on the season despite its struggles.

Indianapolis ranks 31st in the league in total offense, averaging 283.4 yards. It was held to 50 rushing yards versus Baltimore - the Colts' lowest total since gaining 40 in a 38-35 overtime loss to Dallas on Dec. 5, 2010. Indianapolis ran for a season-high 158 yards versus Tennessee in the first meeting, though 79 came on scrambles by Painter. Javon Ringer led the Titans with 60 yards rushing in that contest, but he's been ruled out for this matchup. Johnson has averaged 68.0 yards rushing in six career games against the Colts.

If Locker gets his first start, look for Tennessee to try to help him by running the football with Johnson, but also giving him plays where he can get on the edge to throw on the move or run if protections break down. If Hasselbeck returns, he will take advantage of an already banged up secondary while the Titans defense should have no trouble containing one of the league's worst offenses. Looks like a win-win to me.





















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jimmythegreek Posts:11441 Followers:384
12/18/2011 10:54 AM

Detroit/Oakland over 47.5:
Detroit has lost five of eight since opening with five straight wins but is in position for a wild-card spot after it beat Minnesota 34-28 and Chicago lost its third in a row last Sunday. Trying to maintain their playoff position in the NFC, the Detroit Lions are eager to welcome one of their top players back to the field. The Oakland Raiders are looking for anything to help their chances of remaining in the AFC playoff picture. With defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh back after a two-game suspension, the Lions look to avoid a third consecutive road loss Sunday by handing the Raiders a third straight defeat.

Detroit hopes to benefit from Suh's presence after it allowed New Orleans and Minnesota to score 59 points without him. The Lions led 28-7 before the Vikings got within six points and had the ball inside the 5-yard line in the final seconds. They caught a break after no call was made when linebacker DeAndre Levy grabbed the facemask of Minnesota quarterback Joe Webb on the final play. Though Detroit feels fortunate to have survived that game, it is only looking forward while trying to secure its first playoff appearance since 1999. After Oakland (7-6), the Lions host San Diego and conclude the regular season at undefeated Green Bay.

While Detroit is 5-0 against teams with losing records, it's 3-5 when facing clubs .500 or better. The Lions also have been outscored 68-30 while losing their last two road games to the Bears and Saints. That mark could improve against an Oakland team that has been outscored 80-30 during consecutive losses at Miami and Green Bay following a three-game winning streak. The skid has dropped the Raiders from first place in the AFC West to one game behind division-leading Denver. Oakland is one of three teams one game behind New York for the final wild-card spot.

Oakland, which has given up at least 31 points five times, fell behind 34-0 in each of its last two games. Though the Raiders have yielded 517 rushing yards over the past three weeks, their biggest challenge Sunday could be trying to stop Stafford. He's thrown a touchdown pass in 15 straight games and is 246 yards shy of becoming the third player in Detroit history to pass for 4,000. Offensively, Carson Palmer has thrown five interceptions over the last two games, including four in a 46-16 loss to the Packers last Sunday. Palmer, who has completed 66.2 percent of his passes for 494 yards with four TDs and four interceptions while winning both career starts against the Lions, could have deep-threat Denarius Moore back after he missed the past three games with a foot injury. Lions star Calvin Johnson caught four passes for 70 yards with a touchdown in a 36-21 win at Oakland in 2007 in the last matchup. That was Detroit's first victory in five road games against the Raiders.

The key for Detroit will be to stop the run and force the Raiders and QB Carson Palmer to be one-dimensional. Palmer is a pocket passer and an inviting target for the Lions' pass rush. On offense, the Lions sorely missed RB Kevin Smith last week. Without his speed and his threat both to run and catch the ball, the Vikings were able to get away with playing a soft box and using deep cover on both sides. With Smith likely back in action not only will the Raiders have to honor the run, but he's much more of a threat in the pass game than Maurice Morris or Keiland Williams.

Best of luck to all this week
YTD: 30-26


















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finance Posts:8713 Followers:228
12/18/2011 11:05 AM

Good luck with the plays JTG...great writeups as always

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